There’s an epidemic going around the all natural crowd. Ignorance. Specifically the pervading belief that natural = non-toxic or safe. I’m sorry, but that simply isn’t the case! Natural based products can be gentler than their chemical cousins, but that is far from the case in every instance. You can poison, sicken, or injure your self or others by using inappropriate natural remedies. Here are some words of warning to help keep you safe while using your natural remedies and products.
Herbs have a vast array of qualities from helping your cleaners clean better, to supporting your health. However, they can also harm. Herbal supplements can have interactions with your medications just like any medication you may get from your doctor or pharmacist. Be sure to tell your Doctor about your herbal supplements, and consult with them before adding new ones to avoid nasty interactions & side effects. Drug interactions aren’t the only problem with using herbal supplements, there’s also the issue of allergies. If you have allergies, your herbal supplements can trigger them. So be careful about what herbs you take and make sure they aren’t allergens for you. This also applies to herbal teas, tinctures and any other way you can come into contact with things you are allergic to.
Essential oils are volatile oils refined from any number of plants and flowers. As such they are also very potent and have the ability to burn or irritate skin when used directly on it in an undiluted form. For this reason they should always be mixed with a carrier oil. They also should never be taken internally – no matter what the trademarked marketing term “certifies” your oils. There is NO true certification. They are for use on skin (in some cases) or for aromatherapy. This applies to you, your children and your pets. Speaking of pets, don’t use your essential oils on your pets – ESPECIALLY YOUR CATS. Cats can’t metabolize the essential oils, they are especially sensitive to Tea Tree oil – so keep it well away from them! Be careful when using it around the house in your cleaning products as well. Just as toxic residue from chemical cleaners can irritate and harm, so too can residue from essential oils. This also applies to products for pets that contain essential oils. They are often marketed as natural flea repellents and the like, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they are safe.
Reminder: Oil & Water Don’t Mix
In other news, the sky is blue. Why am I mentioning this? Because I see many natural home cleaning recipes and remedies that forget this simple fact. If you add your essential oil of choice to water or vinegar it will not mix without an emulsifying agent. The essential oil and the vinegar solution will separate, since the oil rises to the top, what you are spraying will be only your vinegar solution. But wait you say, I mixed it! Shaking the bottle will help mix the two, but only temporarily, just like with salad dressing. Ever get to the bottom of a bottle of oil & vinegar based dressing only to have an unequal distribution of both left leaving you will too much vinegar and not enough oil? That can happen with your homemade cleaner too.
Using more natural remedies and resources can help you lead a happier, healthier life. However, it’s important to remember that just as nature can help it can harm. Natural products are not necessarily any safer than those that contain human-made chemicals. As such, all due diligence must apply. All remedies, herbal, natural and otherwise should be treated with respect, and used in conjunction with care from your health care provider. To keep your home safe look for products that are non-toxic or hypoallergenic. These will help ensure the products you are using are gentle and safe. Above all else, don’t take anyone’s word for it just because you read it on the internet. That includes me.
Do your own research. Read medical journals, ask your doctor or pharmacist and use common sense.
How do you stay safe amid a sea of misinformation?